More than I year ago I’ve started to cycle for the first time after a very long period of time (decades ). Those days I didn’t know my surrounding area very well, because I was pretty new to it. But I had a Pocket PC, an XDA mini and I had already a GPS Bluetooth mouse. The XDA mini is a Windows Mobile 2003SE device, and there are already many open source, or just free to use tools out there. I’ve started to look for GPS navigation software, but didn’t find anything free, that had movable maps, or it was free but the maps weren’t included. A movable map is scrolling accordingly, while you are moving. Almost all car navigation systems like TomTom or Navigon aren’t using movable maps, the maps they are using for sure moves, but they are vector maps, not bitmaps.
If you want to use a movable map you’ve got to purchase or scan it yourself, and you have to prepare the map in size and calibrate it first, before you can use it on your mobile device.
I was so obsessed by this thought, that I need this movable map functionality, that I didn’t let anything else into my closer scope.
I was wrong.
I’ve finally found the free Software Odgps (OutDoor GPS).
This little tool had no movable maps, and the author stated, that in most cases this is just a useless gimmick. I doubted that.
Anyhow, I was about to give this whole thing a try, the only thing was missing, was a holder for my bicycle handlebar.
I found this in the Internet, and bought one (see picture to the right)
After my first trip I was quite pleased by Odgps. I really didn’t need Movable Maps, they are only hard to read and make the whole system pretty slow. The only information I need to know is, whether I’m on track or not.
If you are looking for prerecorded GPX tracks, you can look at the http://www.opencyclemap.org/ or just search for tracks in a search engine of your choice. I’ve done my first GPX tracks with Google-Earth. This includes the risk, that the created tracks aren’t really completely usable for bikers (stairs, autobahns …)
Googles own format is the KML format, or the compressed version: KMZ. If you need to convert it from GPX or vise versa, you can just use tools like gpsbabel. But most things work by drag&drop or point&click (track creation).
Unfortunately Odgps can’t record and navigate at the same time. If you decided to record your trip, then analyzing the track is a very nice thing to do. First option is to drop the data into Google-Earth, and fly over the track you’ve recorded.
Or you can do a more precise analysis with http://www.gps-freeware.de/. This is really a nice and free GPS track analysis tool, which unfortunately I didn’t manage to install on Linux with wine. The problem was, that I couldn’t install .NET 2.0 Framework. I’ve tried it almost one year ago, so I don’t know whether there are still problems.
There’s also such an application for Linux (gpsxtm). My first impression was pretty poor, but nevertheless I’ll keep having an eye on it. A solution, that always works, are online analyzing tools like http://www.gpsvisualizer.com/, but it’s not every man’s thing to put his private data to the public I think.
Free Software Tool Collection for GPS Navigation
- Odgps, http://www.outdoor-gps.de/ (Windows Mobile 2003 & WM5/6 )
- Google-Earth, http://earth.google.de/ (Linux, Windows)
- GPS-Track-Analyse.NET, http://www.gps-freeware.de/ (Windows)
- GPSBabel, http://www.gpsbabel.org/ (Linux, Windows)
- GPS-Visualizer, http://www.gpsvisualizer.com/ (online)
- GP(S|X)Track Manager, http://sourceforge.net/projects/gpsxtm/ (Linux, Windows)
- OpenCycleMap, http://www.opencyclemap.org/ (online)